Monday, February 27, 2017


Mathematics Education
Environmental & Science Education
by Edward Hessler

Almost every day a new headline announces a relationship between some X and some Y as though it was causal.

Maria Konnikova's wrote a short piece in The New Yorker on politics and personality. She reviewed research done by Brad Verhulst, Virginia Commonwealth University and also talked with him about it. This may be one of the reasons that the subheading for her essay reads "most of what you read is malarkey." There may be relationships but they are too often stated much too strongly.

Konnikova mentioned Tyler Vigen's website, Spurious Correlations. This by way of calling your attention to his web site. Here's one:

Letters in Winning Word of Scipps National Spelling Bee correlates with Number of People Killed by Venonmous Spiders.

Vygen is not a maths/stats person but a Harvard law student with a love for numbers and science. About the charts on his website he writes that they "aren't meant to imply causation nor are they meant to create a distrust for research or correlation data. Rather, I hope the project fosters interest in statistics and numerical research."

Konnikova's essay is a lesson on how one trusts research.

And finally, Vygen's stuff is free for the taking. Anything he posts is "released under a Creative Commons Attribution License."

What a deal!

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